Homeowners associations collect dues, manage finances, upkeep amenities, and perform many tasks to maintain property values and keep homeowners happy. All these are qualities of a good HOA. However, they aren’t the only reasons people choose to live in planned communities.
Residents choose HOAs because they want to engage with a tight-knit community of like-minded members. Yet your residents also lead busy lives and will need to balance the time they put into their neighborhood. Those who serve as board members or in other roles volunteer their time and effort. Thus, striking the perfect balance of community engagement can be a challenge.
That’s where neighborhood events come in.
These events—whether Super Bowl parties, cookouts by the pool, or association fundraisers—bring residents together for a few hours of fun and bonding.
But what about the volunteers you’ll need to plan these events? Someone will have to handle the ins and outs of any gathering you decide to throw. You’ll want to coordinate volunteers’ efforts to be as efficient as possible, bringing residents together for fantastic events without overburdening those doing the initial legwork.
Today, many associations use HOA software to handle day-to-day management tasks for their communities. Plus, robust volunteer management software can help your team plan and execute neighborhood events. The right software offers tools to recruit volunteers and define and manage their roles leading up to your event.
Using these tools can streamline the planning of a successful event and make your life easier. But you’ll still need to take the right steps to pull it off. These include:
Let’s take a step-by-step look at how to plan an event that will impress you and your residents.
Step 1: Spread the word about your event.
Every great event begins with two things: generating as much buzz as possible and harnessing the hard work of volunteers. Spreading the word about your event means attracting residents to events while giving enough notice for them to plan ahead. It also means garnering interest from would-be volunteers.
HOA software provides an array of communication tools to get the word out. Here are a few important ways to get your message across:
Solicit volunteers. To get residents interested in volunteering, they have to know there will be an event in the first place. They’ll want to know times, dates, and what they must do. HOA software lets you send mass email, text, or automated phone messages. You can also use your community website to make your case to potential volunteers. Board meetings are another good place to do this.
Get residents interested. It’s always good to get residents interested in events early. They lead busy lives, so advanced notice lets them put aside time. Aside from using your website and other communication methods, it may be a good idea to mention upcoming events using a community calendar.
Go old-school with flyers. Sometimes, nothing beats an old-fashioned printed flyer. When you hand out printed promotional materials and post them in shared spaces, it can grab more attention than an email. Use HOA software to manage and send physical mailers or newsletters via USPS at the click of a button.
Now that you’ve gotten your message across, what’s next? Volunteers know about the event, but they need a way to sign up, and you need a system to manage their information. This leads to step two.
Step 2: Enable online signups.
Online signups make the process easy for you to recruit volunteers. The easier you make it for people to volunteer, the less likely they’ll say no. Having a single, easy-to-use sign-up page lets residents quickly send their info all from the same place.
Here are a few tips for facilitating online registration:
Use your volunteer management software. Volunteer management software lets you build a beautiful, branded sign-up page where you can collect all your volunteers’ information. Tailor your sign-up page to ask for the info you need, from volunteer availability to what roles might be best for them.
Let members access signups on your website. Build your custom sign-up page directly into your HOA website. Residents can quickly and easily find the page through the same website where you share other neighborhood updates, and where they can pay dues online via your HOA software.
Once you know who wants to volunteer, it’s time to assign them roles.
Step 3: Define and assign roles.
Once you’ve decided all the tasks on your to-do list, your timeline, and who’s interested in volunteering, you can assign them jobs to do.
Define what needs to be done. A neighborhood yard sale may seem simple, but every event has many internal steps to make it a success. Events may include many important jobs like purchasing supplies, setting up a shared space, gathering food and drinks, and organizing vendor logistics.
Put people in roles that fit their skills. Do some jobs require certain experience? Management software can help you connect with your volunteers to find out who has the skills you need.
Maintain contact with volunteers. Keep an open line of communication with volunteers about their roles in the planning process. This means you can quickly answer questions, make adjustments, and fix mistakes. Your volunteers will feel appreciated and heard, making them more likely to volunteer in the future.
Once you have your team in place, it’s time to execute your plan.
Step 4: Prepare and execute.
Forming volunteer teams and deciding on a management plan gives you the tools you’ll need to execute your plan and stick to your timeline. Follow these steps to carry out your event plan:
Define management roles. Make sure you know what management roles your team will play. Who’s overseeing logistics? Who’s communicating with the volunteers about the event? Who’s the contact person for vendors? Who’s in charge of the budget and making sure the event is insured?
Form volunteers into teams. Depending on how big your event and volunteer pool are, you may need to break volunteers into teams. Use volunteer software to form and manage these groups.
Stay on top of your schedule. The last thing you need is confusion and delays. Volunteer management software lets you build drag-and-drop schedules to keep everyone on timeline and on target.
As you plan and execute your event, it’s also important to track and optimize for the best possible outcome.
Step 5: Track and optimize.
You’ll need to track team progress and other aspects of your event both before and during your event. This approach offers a few benefits. You can manage your finances in real time, track volunteer progress, and gather data that helps you plan the next big shindig.
Keep these considerations in mind when tracking your event’s success:
Manage your money. Chances are you’re working on a tight budget with the money you’ve fundraised, collected from renting out amenities, or levied as special assessments from those attending. Regardless, you’ve got to manage your finances to stick to your budget. HOA software lets you set and manage a real-time budget and view analytics and reports that help make sure you stay on target.
Track volunteer progress. Volunteer management software gives you tools to track volunteer hours and progress. Plus, you can communicate via text and email, as well as store and share documents with all residents or just specific volunteers. You can review transactions with them using real-time data or go over a vendor contract together.
How did it go? Was your barbeque a hit? How many attended the painting-and-wine mixer? How much did your casino night fundraiser net? What do residents have to say? Did volunteers have a good experience? Did you hit your budget? Stay under? These are all important questions to ask once the dust settles from your event. Send digital surveys to attendees and volunteers about their experiences.
Ultimately, the software tools you use and how you use them can make a huge difference between a snooze fest and an event your residents will be talking about for years.
Bringing people together is what HOAs are all about, and your next event can do just that. It starts with managing your volunteers well and ends with a community who’s closer with one another and more engaged in your HOA’s goals.